By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness
One of the many four-legged new faces here this season is Axle, a 4-year-old trotter who is making himself very much at home since relocating from Minnesota and is fresh from getting his picture taken last weekend.
Axle was claimed for $5,000 at Running Aces in August and has since won two of his four starts while carrying the banner of Dave Siegel, Bob Thronson, Greg Robinson and George Reider, with the latter handling training duties.
Axle clicked in his first start for the new connections at Running Aces while equaling his lifetime mark of 1:57 4/5 in the process. He met some tough types in his initial two outings at this meet and then got some class relief last weekend and prevailed with some aggressive handling by owner/driver Siegel.
“Dave Siegel picked this horse out and I’ve always wanted to go in partnership with him and the opportunity finally opened up,” Reider related when asked about the son of Hard Rock N Roll. “I was actually at Hoosier Park, but I did have three horses at Running Aces with my assistant trainer Kim Hines and we wired her the money and she put in the claim.
“He got a great drive from Mooney (Svendsen) and won in his first start for us back there, and he’s turned in three good efforts since coming here. I thought he was real game the other night for Dave and he certainly has the chance to get better. He was kind of a nervous type when he first got here, but he’s settled down the last couple of weeks and that’s very important with a trotter.”
Axle suits up Saturday night in the Open 2 Handicap Trot, where the water gets deeper as he takes on the likes of Alpine Hawk and Franks Best while leaving from the No. 3 slot with Siegel back at the helm. He’ll definitely get a good test in that spot.
Series finales, Open Trot headline program
Four California Harness Legends late-closing pacing series finals and an Open 2 Trot headed by Alpine Hawk and Franks Best are the main attractions on the 14-race program at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo on Saturday night. A reminder that beginning next week, the schedule here will switch to Friday and Saturday action.
The first series finale is the Mike Corley, which should find one of the heaviest favorites of the evening in I O One. The 4-year-old son of Cambest races for Fabian and Edwin Alberto Quevedo with Raul Escobedo the trainer and Luke Plano at the helm. I O One has rewarded the chalkplayers at 6-5 and 1-2 through the first two legs while leaving little doubt on either occasion.
The Bill Conlin final has Serious Art and Live A Little once again figuring to command most of the tote attention after finishing one-two in the first two legs. Live A Little went coast-to-coast for owner/trainer Bob Johnson and driver Mooney Svendsen opening night, while Series Art was taking bows after their most recent meeting in a game performance for owner/trainer Nathalie Tremblay and Luke Plano.
The Annette Funicello for fillies and mares goes as race No. 11 on the evening. Windy City Paige is looking to make a sweep of the three legs for owner Pamela Dunneback-Quirie, trainer Richad Dunneback and pilot James Kennedy. The 8-year-old daughter of Cole Muffler has made every pole a winning one in the opening two legs, most recently holding safe by a head over a game Mystically Mine.
The Jim Dennis is headed by Lust, who put on a furious finish from last in the second leg after leaving from the demanding No. 10 post last weekend and won going away by three and a half lengths. Wiseman guides the Williams Hernandez/Georgette Wenceslao colorbearer, who just missed on opening week while also finishing powerfully.
The Open 2 Trot is a handicap event that finds Racing Secretary Fred Kuebler assigning the outside two positions to the hard-hitting Franks Best and Alpine Hawk. The latter leaves from the extreme in the field of seven with Rich Wojcio at the controls, while Franks Best does his work from the No. 6 post with Mooney Svendsen giving directions.
Franks Best got the job done at the head of the trotting division on opening week as the Bob Johnson owned, trained and bred performer looped the field to score. Alpine Hawk had some traffic troubles that evening, but had no such issues in their most recent meeting and was able to turn the tables with Wojcio.